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In Flash Professional CS5: Character Animation, Dermot O' Connor explains the process of character animation in Flash, using nested symbols and motion and shape tweening to create believable characters. The course covers the process from start to finish, from rigging a character to creating a walk cycle animation. Along the way, Dermot demonstrates techniques such as animating eye blinks, head turns, and mouth movements during dialogue. Exercise files accompany the course.
So here is our character. The colors are all blocked in and we'll get close now to be able to finally rig this. But there's one last issue with the color of the character that we need to address, and that's the color of the torso and how it relates to the right arm. And let me show you what I mean. So if you double-click on the body and the state or double-click on bd in the Library, and here we have our right arm and our torso and just watch what happens when we moved the right arm over the body. It disappears. This is going to happen naturally anytime you use this style of coloring.
So there are a couple of different possible solutions and here's one that I made previously. This is for demonstration purposes. And this is an option you have. The only problem is it does solve problems but it also causes some. I'm going to show you what they are. Obviously now you can see where the arm is separate from the body and everything reads nicely. The only problem with this, even when you're very careful with it, let's say I want to reposition this arm into a new pose. I end up noodling with all these little corners and points and it doesn't take much for this thing to degenerate into a complete mess.
Honestly it's just not a fun way to work when you're working on that big scale, like arms or legs, and so I like to find ways that encourage me to animate and not punish me. So let me get into that layer and I'll show you a different possible way to solve this problem. So here is our original simple design and if we look at it with a Subselection tool, now we have got our-- We have simple six points instead of 20. So let's rotate this across the body, and to compare it to the other system if I want to position this guy into a new angle, pretty straightforward. Look at an outline you can see what I mean.
I can really distort this thing without worrying about all of the little triangles and everything. Of course, the problem being how do we tell it apart from the body? One way is to make the body a different color, and we can, you know, pick several of them. Then the problem becomes we can see the scene. Let me make this a little more extreme so you can see it. Now we can see this line. This is also ugly. So we don't want that either. So the solution is, you may have guessed this already. It's visible on our color reference. The simplest one I think is to make a gradient on the torso level. In order to do that we need a quick demonstration of the Gradient tool. Okay.
So I'm going to show you the Gradient tool, and make just clear the deck here for a minute, and I think that lot of people may regard the Gradient tool as a little ugly. It is limited. There is no question about that. But it does have certain options that are very-- kind of capable for simple basic shapes. So I'm going to pick Linear Gradient and then let's pick an extreme gradient, so we can see it properly. Select the Fill tool and important sometimes to make sure Lock Fill is not active. Because Lock Fill, this little gadget down here, can prevent you from making dynamic changes and discourage you actively from actually doing any thing with the gradient.
So let's make sure Lock Fill is not active. We can paint our linear gradient any number of ways. You can see it appear too. Ignore that. So the linear gradient is fine for cylindrical shapes and such, but for organic shapes the radial might be more appropriate. And let's see you want to alter the gradient to fit a particular form. That's when you need to use the Gradient Transform tool and that's here, beneath the Free Transform tool. So let's click on our area and as you can see, we got this circular widget and by scaling that in we can rotate this, we can play with it, and we can adapt it and modify it to fit various shapes.
The other thing to watch out for this triangle change is the focus of the center, so if you want to create things like billiard balls or pool balls or whatever, even different kinds of shadow effects, this is very useful. The other thing you can do is you can add more colors to your gradient, visible in the Color panel. You can make them different colors. You can make them different transparencies by playing with this. So the scope for effect is pretty substantial. So let me get rid of that. By changing the position of the colors on your swatch you change how they map on to the Gradient tool itself.
So this is the new gadget that we'll be using to color that torso. So let me go back into there, and I'm going to steal these colors from the color model. You can apply any different colors and play with this as you see fit. So let's select the radial gradient. We want to fill the torso with that, click. And the first thing that'll likely happen is you'll see something that's completely hideous, so then you use the Gradient tool. Sometimes the Gradient tool leads off the screen like this. It drives me crazy, to be honest.
And what you end up having to do, luckily just once, is zoom out, grab the gadget and bring it back in again until you can see it. So again if that happens, that's the solution. So we position it with the center of the gradient will be our shadow area, which is similar to this. And rather than have it be a sphere, which will look kind ofa weird, let's try to match it as closely as we can to the torso, so that the brighter outer color, which would be identical to the arm, will be at the outer edge of this. Make sure Snap is off, so we can align it a little more closely.
And then it's a matter of playing with these colors. Now if you want to sample a color for your gradients, it's very simple. Double-click on the color itself, and you can select it like that. If you want to add another color on a gradient to give it a little more of a depth or a more natural feel so it fits the curve of the torso a little bit better, simply by moving it, if you look carefully, you can see where the terminator of the shadow is. It's becoming sharper and sharper as I push the color on the palette here. That's obviously too extreme. Let's pull it back in. Now we're getting something that looks very natural.
Let me zoom in to the joint where the arm is, and that's pretty nice. We can see where the arm is crossing the torso. We're not seeing an ugly separation up here. And if I do a quick test, select the arm, and use the Free Transform tool, and pull the arm across the body, that's really nice. So we can see that everything is working pretty well. And you can change the position of the gradient. You can tween it. If you have to adjust your animation, you can do that. You're not a prisoner of this actual position.
So that is the torso problem solved. In the next session, we will go forward and symbolize the different body parts and we'll pivot them and make sure that they are all named and stacked properly in the library for easy use.
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